[Abra] ► Province Profile: My Take for this Notorious Province

THOUGHTS AND COMMENTS FROM READERS
(The full article is posted below this discussion box.)

"From unknown rice terraces, springs, waterfalls, culture, traditions and people, I believe Abra has more to offer but for it to happen, the province must gain first the trust of travelers and tourists that it is safe to explore whether as a solo backpacker or as a group."

Abra is a province that is usually ignored for tourism. One reason I may connect with this situation is the bad publicity that Abra is known for via media. Abra is known to be a province with high incidence of crime most especially those related to politics.

Downtown Bangued | Abra Valley | Sleeping Beauty Mountain

[BANGUED] Downtown Bangued with Sleeping Beauty Mountain (Background)


ON SAFETY

Abra Province in the Philippines is a famous province, not in terms of tourism but in terms of political instability and election-related violence.

Abra Provincial Capitol

[BANGUED] Abra Provincial Capitol


Once election in this province comes, it becomes a hot spot of the Commission on Elections because they are expecting that violence may happen.

On my walk along the streets of #BANGUED

#BANGUED

FAST FACTS: Bangued is the capital of Abra province. Majority of the people are Ilocanos. Bangued is a bustling town located at the Abra Valley.

PHOTO: Sapilang Falls in Brgy Sagap
, the capital of the province, I actually didn't feel a warm welcome from the people maybe because I am just paranoid about the warnings of my parents and the news I was hearing on radio and television.

But per experience, I knew it is safe here, just get rid of anything that  is related to politics and be sure to don't act as if you are high and mighty, you might be misinterpreted. Make it sure also that you look friendly and lastly, don't make any enemy here. I don't recommend you to visit Abra immediately before, during and after election and during campaign period.

ON TOURISM

Within the provincial capital Bangued, major tourist attractions are not plenty and asking the locals themselves, they even don't have an idea where to send me. They simply say awan (a term for "none"). In fact, I already have an idea what to expect about Abra since I went to their Provincial Capitol to ask some individuals in order to be more familiar about the province.

Kimkimay Lake of Villaviciosa, Abra

[VILLAVICIOSA] Kimkimay Lake in Brgy Tuquib of Villaviciosa Town


The province is exciting! The culture, the natural and even man-made wonders, the people and the traditions are all amazing but few are known about them -- so Abra remains to be at the bottom of the tourism hierarchy because of some factors related to the province itself.

But just to test how the locals can assist tourists and travelers in exploring their province, I was just disappointed that from the 5 strangers I asked, no one of them can recommend a place to visit and have fun.

Wilawil Falls in Baay, Abra

[LICUAN-BAAY] Wilawil Falls in Baay


There are only few good roads that interconnect the towns, so most of the towns especially at the upland area become isolated during heavy rains.

A town called Tineg is the least accessible that it becomes allegedly a dwelling place for the leftist group NPA.

Some news reporters and military people reach the town using choppers while the locals spend a day or two in returning home from Bangued using horses, not vehicles - due to the absence of good roads to the most remote communities.

Anito Falls cascade along Tineg River of Abra

[TINEG] The undiscovered beauty of Tineg town


However, the shallow portions of this interior town located deep in the mountains of Abra can be accessed by land in either muddy or dusty rough road.

ON POLITICS, MILITARY

Inside the Provincial Capitol of Abra, I didn't feel any tension, instead I was feeling secured. They have air-conditioned offices and the employees of the Capitol looked decent.

Inside the Abra Provincial Capitol

[BANGUED] Inside the Abra Capitol


In front of the Capitol, some posh cars were parked and I have an instinct that they are mostly owned by the politicians.

At the third floor of the Capitol, I was aback to see military people inside a public building and it created paranoia at the tip of my hypothalamus.

Bangued Municipal Hall

[BANGUED] Municipal Hall of the capital town


Errr... Soldiers? What might have they done here? It suddenly sparked at the back of my mind about the news I always hear that politicians in Abra have military escorts, a very controversial scenario in Philippine politics. Allegedly, military escorts no longer serve the interest of "all the people", but serve the interest of "one."

Expect to see military people at the entrance Tunnel of the province and during election, they are scattered everywhere.

ON PHYSICAL ASPECT


Abra is accessed "practically" via the Manila North Road. From Manila North Road, there is only 1 more road that will lead you to Abra and this is "the only" road that will lead you to Abra from the Manila North Road,  meaning once this road becomes impassable, the province gets isolated. There are another roads going to Abra but they are practically not a road of choice.

Abra is not at all mountainous. There is also a lowland part. The capital Bangued is nestled in a valley drained by the Abra River which originates from Mt Data in MOUNTAIN PROVINCE

MOUNTAIN PROVINCE

FAST FACTS: This province is known for the cave connections and hanging coffins of Sagada, the burial caves and rice terraces of Bontoc and for being a center of a vibrant Igorot culture and heritage.

PHOTO: A marker at Mount Polis, near the boundary of Mt Province and Ifugao
draining to the West Philippine Sea via the towns of #BANTAY

#BANTAY

FAST FACTS: Bantay is home to the Bantay Belfry built in 1519 where several TV show and movie scenes have been taken.

PHOTO: Old Quirino Bridge in Banaoang: This bridge used to connect Bantay to the rest of the south. It's no longer in use. A new bridge has been built to replace it.
and #SANTA

#SANTA

FAST FACTS: This coastal town located at the Abra River delta is believed to be the birthplace of Gabriela Silang, a revolutionary Filipina fighter during the great World War..

PHOTO: Church of Sta Catalina de Alexandria
in ILOCOS SUR

ILOCOS SUR

FAST FACTS: This province has two UNESCO World Heritage Sites - the Sta. Maria Church and the Heritage City of Vigan.

PHOTO: Pinsal Falls (taken during dry season): Said to be the largest in Ilocos Region.
.

Abra has an extremely rugged terrain with mountains and hills rising along its perimeter and interior.

THE PEOPLE

Early inhabitants of Abra are the Tingguians or Itneg. The Ilocanos traded with the Tingguians and eventually learned that Abra was a good place and upon occupation, the Tingguians are forced to flee to the mountains.

Maeng Tribe of Tubo, Abra

[TUBO] Old women of the Maeng Tribe of Tubo with colorful hair beads

Muyadan Tribe of Manabo

[MANABO] Young generation of Muyadan Tribe in Manabo town

With a Banao Tribe elder

[DAGUIOMAN] With me is an elder of the Banao Tribe of Daguioman

Banao Tribe of Malibcong, Abra

[MALIBCONG] Photo-opp with a golden couple of the Banao Tribe


Majority of the people of Abra is Ilocano. Some other minor groups living in the province are the Itneg or Tingguian people.

I also learned from a resident in Bucay, Abra that there are some communities or villages there with different dialects. At one area, a group of people is speaking one dialect while the other group of another area speaks another dialect. Asking why this is the case, she answered that those groups belong to different tribes, thus different dialects too. One tribe, one dialect, united with one identity, amazing!

------0------

Abra is actually an amazing place but full of challenges for you to explore because most of the towns are remote but for sure once you reach those hidden towns, I know it will be worth seeing a pure beauty without a touch of commercialism.

Women at the Timeg River

[TINEG] Said to be the Cordillera's murder capital


From unknown rice terraces, springs, waterfalls, culture, traditions and people, I believe Abra has more to offer but for it to happen, the province must gain first the trust of travelers and tourists that it is safe to explore Abra whether as a solo backpacker or as a group.

The name of the province, being almost synonymous to politics-related killings and violence, my father called me immediately when he learned that I am in Abra, speaking with extremely angry voice on phone wanting me to go back home ASAP because of fear I might be harmed. So this is what I am talking about. It is the challenge to change the image of Abra for good, my father is one of those people restricting their friends and family members to explore Abra. In light of the foregoing, there is a big task of changing the image of Abra as a peaceful place waiting out there./end

Abra #TownExploration Series

Map showing the Location of Abra

Click map to view latest articles covering Abra


MORE POSTS FROM THIS CATEGORY: *SOCIETY*

[PANGASINAN] Flesh-Eating Disease: of Prophecy, Hipocrisy and Politics

TEASER: "...though media are very entertaining and informative, our role is to become critical thinkers."

[IFUGAO] Giving the Children of Ifugao a Bright Future

TEASER: "If the smile of your crush or your loved one can make your day complete, I would say a helping hand that will make the children of the rice terraces to continually smile will mean a lot."

[VIGAN] Let's Support Vigan City for the New 7 Wonders Cities

TEASER: "Live with the people of Vigan and love it. From there, you will learn that there are just culture and traditions that can not be explained in words and can not be showcased in festivals that you have to actually experience it for a considerable length of time for you to understand.""/span>

Tags: Profile of Abra | Abra blog | Abra Overview | Blog about Abra | Abra tour

comment 39 #TownFolks Commented :

Pinoy Adventurista on April 24, 2012 at 9:27 PM said...

i totally agree... it had a fair share of bad news, just like Basilan and Siquijor... but i think, like other provinces, you'll realize that those might just be bad publicity once you get to visit the place... just my 2 cents... :)

haven't been to Abra but I'm planning to go there very soon! thanks for sharing some info and your experience...

killerfillers on April 25, 2012 at 11:25 AM said...

sa Bangued pa lang ako nakakapunta dyan. Wish ko lang maging stable pulitika dyan.

Edmaration etc on April 25, 2012 at 3:48 PM said...

@Pinoy Adventurista. Correct. Abra is beautiful in it's own way I swear, and the beauty of Abra and the political culture is not at all directly proportional at all. Abra has it's own unique beauty in different aspects. The only thing that affects tourism activity is the bad publicity, you are right!

Edmaration etc on April 25, 2012 at 3:51 PM said...

@killerfillers, oo nga. It's time for Abra to move on and shine! Naka-ungos na ang ibang provinces sa Cordillera in terms of tourism and development and Abra is now being left behind. We need selfless politicians :)

Mhe-anne Ojeda on April 26, 2012 at 10:45 PM said...

i know Abra by heart coz it was where my oldest brother lived with his family for two years since Bangued is my sister -in -law's hometown. also my other sister-in-law, wife of my other brother is from Salapadan. For two years I've been back and forth Abra and didn't feel the unrest and have seen those terraces and sights and experienced the hardships in reaching the other towns because of unfinished road. But my sister in law and her family (plus my brother) is quick to admit about the political killings.so it is not at all media hype. it really exists. so i asked my brother to come back to manila and live here. i couldn't be more happier that they have been here for a decade now.

Edmaration etc on April 26, 2012 at 10:52 PM said...

@Atty Mhe-Anne, thanks for sharing your experience. I really hope that Abra will gain peace and order ASAP.

Joy Calipes-Felizardo on April 27, 2012 at 12:30 AM said...

Is the province doing something to promote itself in the helm of tourism? I'm sure there are more to the killings or political unrest, there is beauty, there is tranquil and fun, only it's yet to be discovered!

YANI on April 27, 2012 at 4:08 AM said...

I hate places with so much tension and I sure hope Abra at present (or will always be) is one of the safest places on earth.

Argee on April 27, 2012 at 1:56 PM said...

Wow, interesting post. I learned a lot about Abra through your post.

You're right, Abra does not get tourist attraction at all. In fact, I never heard about it as a tourist destination.

Clearly, there is much work to be done here before we can tag it as more fun in the Philippines. I think posting entries like this for social awareness can help in that initiative.

Edmaration etc on April 27, 2012 at 10:44 PM said...

Joy Calipes-Felizardo on April 27, 2012 12:30 AM said...

Is the province doing something to promote itself in the helm of tourism? I'm sure there are more to the killings or political unrest, there is beauty, there is tranquil and fun, only it's yet to be discovered!

---
Joy, there is! :) There is an effort but usually it comes from the people of Abra themselves :)

Edmaration etc on April 27, 2012 at 10:47 PM said...

YANI on April 27, 2012 4:08 AM said...

I hate places with so much tension and I sure hope Abra at present (or will always be) is one of the safest places on earth.

---
LEt us hope so Yani, I am sure the people of Abra can do it!

Edmaration etc on April 27, 2012 at 10:50 PM said...

Argee on April 27, 2012 1:56 PM said...

Wow, interesting post. I learned a lot about Abra through your post.

You're right, Abra does not get tourist attraction at all. In fact, I never heard about it as a tourist destination.

Clearly, there is much work to be done here before we can tag it as more fun in the Philippines. I think posting entries like this for social awareness can help in that initiative.

---
Indeed so much work to be done, Abrenians will reap the fruits of their efforts if they'll be successful -- my full support to them.

RM Bulseco on April 28, 2012 at 2:14 PM said...

Ngayon ko lang nalaman na may lowland parts pala ang Abra. :D

MaryJane Tauyan on April 28, 2012 at 6:46 PM said...

the isolated word seems to scare me a lot but really wondering how people can live in that place if its really scary for the sake of everyone. at least everyone have read this info! xx

ajpoliquit on April 28, 2012 at 6:58 PM said...

Wow, thanks for this comprehensive peek at the "hermit" province of Abra. :)) I say hermit cuz the province seems to be a black hole. All the other provinces around it are well-known and heavily visited by tourists. It's too bad that the province's own politicians created this stigma. Shame on them really.

As for people not knowing any place to recommend to a visitor, it's not just an Abra problem. I was in Candaba, Pampanga and many people didn't even know where the Candaba Swamp was! I've had other experiences of asking locals and getting confused looks instead of information. I think our DOT should also disseminate info to locals. They advertise points of interests but when the townspeople in those places are not even aware of them. Such pity, right?

Anyway, it's admirable that you usually feature places that are off the radar for most Pinoys. You truly are a Pinoy travel blogger in the real sense of the term. :)

Edmaration etc on April 28, 2012 at 8:39 PM said...

RM Bulseco on April 28, 2012 2:14 PM said...

Ngayon ko lang nalaman na may lowland parts pala ang Abra. :D

---
Now you know Renz :), The capital Bangued is located at the Abra Valley:)

Edmaration etc on April 28, 2012 at 8:41 PM said...

MaryJane Tauyan on April 28, 2012 6:46 PM said...

the isolated word seems to scare me a lot but really wondering how people can live in that place if its really scary for the sake of everyone. at least everyone have read this info! xx

---
Could it be, but there is also a positive side for Abra that is not being publicized because people are overwhelmed with the bad publicity...

Edmaration etc on April 28, 2012 at 8:44 PM said...

As for people not knowing any place to recommend to a visitor, it's not just an Abra problem. I was in Candaba, Pampanga and many people didn't even know where the Candaba Swamp was!
---
With these two cases we discovered, I think the locals are not yet ready to embrace a tourism industry boom in the Philippines, the locals themselves should be the tour guide but disappointing to know that even in Candaba, the locals don't know about that famous swamp I always dream to visit and explore...

Berylle on April 28, 2012 at 8:58 PM said...

I've also heard about a place called Tabuk in the Cordillera region having the same perception as Tineg. Honestly, i felt scared.
The last pic reminds me of our trip to Sagada :)

Edmaration etc on April 28, 2012 at 9:15 PM said...

Berylle, I understand you... Calling the attention of the Abra leaders, how can we change this mindset.. hehehe,

Vonn Angelie David on April 28, 2012 at 10:20 PM said...

place looks pristine...

markpogi on April 28, 2012 at 10:28 PM said...

I've been hearing violence in Abra for the longest time I hope all of them would be resolved sometime soon.

I recall a contact of mine in facebook posting beautiful pictures of Abra and its nature. I'll check it out and share it here. ^_^

dimaks on April 29, 2012 at 1:47 AM said...

I just hope that the province will not be left to nothingness when it comes to political legacy. As what you have observed, tourism should be enhanced for the benefits of the place itself.

dimaks
http://the-urban-walker.blogspot.com/

Eugene Constantino on April 29, 2012 at 5:37 AM said...

It's really quite sad how the bad publicity became a hindrance for Abra's tourism growth

ChrisAir Seneba on April 29, 2012 at 7:59 AM said...

I haven't visited the place yet, I'll dig your post if we planned too

athena on April 29, 2012 at 2:40 PM said...

Yeah, I think I really remembered Abra because of the political killings. Yet it should not be the reason as to why people should not go to the place.
On a lighter note, the water looks really serene. :) Great shot. :)

msairrapingol on April 30, 2012 at 4:57 AM said...

agree. every place has its on beauty.

Traveler on a Shoestring on April 30, 2012 at 2:13 PM said...

I envy you because you could travel all you want. I miss travelling! I wish to travel again real soon!

Edmaration etc on April 30, 2012 at 9:20 PM said...

markpogi on April 28, 2012 10:28 PM said...

I've been hearing violence in Abra for the longest time I hope all of them would be resolved sometime soon.

I recall a contact of mine in facebook posting beautiful pictures of Abra and its nature. I'll check it out and share it here. ^_^

---
Let's cross our fingers Marc, there is hope for Abra..

Edmaration etc on April 30, 2012 at 9:22 PM said...

I just hope that the province will not be left to nothingness when it comes to political legacy. As what you have observed, tourism should be enhanced for the benefits of the place itself.
---
Couldn't agree more skamid, Abra is a paradise hiding behind the shadow of fear and some powers..

Edmaration etc on April 30, 2012 at 9:24 PM said...

It's really quite sad how the bad publicity became a hindrance for Abra's tourism growth
---
:(

Edmaration etc on April 30, 2012 at 9:25 PM said...

ChrisAir Seneba on April 29, 2012 7:59 AM said...

I haven't visited the place yet, I'll dig your post if we planned too

---
You can dig it now Air, why procrastinate. LOL!

Edmaration etc on April 30, 2012 at 9:27 PM said...

athena on April 29, 2012 2:40 PM said...

Yeah, I think I really remembered Abra because of the political killings. Yet it should not be the reason as to why people should not go to the place.
On a lighter note, the water looks really serene. :) Great shot. :)

---
Thank you Athena :)

Edmaration etc on April 30, 2012 at 9:33 PM said...

msairrapingol on April 30, 2012 4:57 AM said...

agree. every place has its on beauty.

---
True :)

Traveler on a Shoestring on April 30, 2012 2:13 PM said...

I envy you because you could travel all you want. I miss travelling! I wish to travel again real soon!

---
Get back soon on the road Cha!

MEL on May 1, 2012 at 12:06 AM said...

people just ought to get informed before they jump into conclusions outrightly. Thanks for this and the enlightenment :)

Mrs. Kolca on May 2, 2012 at 12:23 AM said...

Abra looks similar to my province. Lots of remote places and simple living din talaga kahit sa municipality pa.

Christian Lucas Sangoyo on May 2, 2012 at 8:02 PM said...

very informative post, sana nga someday people can come to abra without fearing for their lives.

mhine_koh01 said...

i like ur province,i love it.....this is very beautiful!...

Sisonhomedecor Phils on October 20, 2012 at 7:45 PM said...

For someone who don't live in Abra, you describe it best. It was like that, it is still like this, and it will still be the same or worse in the foreseeable future. It is my province though and I love this place no matter what.

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